Tag Archives: inspectorate

Court challenge win over Sarah Everard vigil raises questions about authorities

Heavy-handed: after the Met Police said it would be illegal to stage a socially-distanced vigil under lockdown conditions, organised by Reclaim These Street, an impromptu event happened instead – leading to heavy criticism of the same force for the brutal way it was seen to put down protesters.

Decisions by the Metropolitan Police that discouraged organisers from holding a vigil for Sarah Everard were against the law, according to High Court judges.

Police statements that Covid-19 regulations at the time meant holding the vigil would be unlawful, and had a “chilling” effect, contributing to the decision to cancel the vigil (an impromptu event was then put down by police with what some have described as brutal force).

None of the force’s decisions was in accordance with the law; evidence showed that the force failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.

That’s a victory for justice. But the High Court had previously refused to declare that any ban on outdoor gatherings under the coronavirus regulations at the time was “subject to the right to protest” – or to declare that an alleged force policy of “prohibiting all protests, irrespective of the specific circumstances” was unlawful.

And Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services concluded the police “acted appropriately” when dealing with the event.

So this raises an obvious question:

Are the High Court and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary fit for purpose if they can’t make a simple ruling in favour of the law?

In a ruling today (March 11), Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate found that the Metropolitan Police breached the rights of Jessica Leigh, Anna Birley, Henna Shah and Jamie Klingler to freedom of speech and assembly, and did not assess the potential risk to public health:

Reclaim These Streets (RTS) proposed a socially-distanced vigil for the 33-year-old, who was murdered by former Met officer Wayne Couzens, near to where she went missing in Clapham, south London, in March last year.

The four women who founded RTS and planned the vigil brought a legal challenge against the force over its handling of the event, which was also intended to be a protest about violence against women.

They withdrew from organising the vigil after being told by the force they would face fines of £10,000 each and possible prosecution if the event went ahead, and a spontaneous vigil and protest took place instead.

The policing of the spontaneous vigil that took place drew criticism from across the political spectrum after women were handcuffed on the ground and led away by officers.

Summarising the decision, Lord Justice Warby said:

“The relevant decisions of the (Met) were to make statements at meetings, in letters, and in a press statement, to the effect that the Covid-19 regulations in force at the time meant that holding the vigil would be unlawful.

“Those statements interfered with the claimants’ rights because each had a ‘chilling effect’ and made at least some causal contribution to the decision to cancel the vigil.

“None of the (force’s) decisions was in accordance with the law; the evidence showed that the (force) failed to perform its legal duty to consider whether the claimants might have a reasonable excuse for holding the gathering, or to conduct the fact-specific proportionality assessment required in order to perform that duty.”

If Lord Justice Warby and Mr Justice Holgate could see this evidence and act upon it, there’s no reason other High Court judges could not do the same – and certainly no reason Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary – which should specialise in the law as it applies to the police – couldn’t.

Why did they make the wrong call, then?

And what will be done to correct what are clearly faults in the attitude of the people who made the wrong decisions?

It costs a fortune to take a case to the High Court; these organisations have a duty to the public to get their decisions right first time.

Sadly, experience suggests to This Writer that the usual action will be taken: nothing at all.

Source: Sarah Everard vigil organisers win High Court challenge against Met Police – upday News UK

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Police inspectorate skewed report to support government clampdown on protests – claim

Whistleblower: this image is representative (the revelations in the article were made by a woman). Many whistleblowers suffer for their principles, in spite of assurances that this won’t happen. It will be interesting to see what happens to Alice O’Keeffe’s career from now on.

The timing is exquisite.

On the day This Site published an article about allegations that a report on institutional racism was scripted by the Tory government to support a lie that there isn’t any in the UK, a whistleblower attacked another report – on the policing of protests – saying it was scripted by the Tories too.

The claim is a huge blow to the credibility of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services. Another blow to its credibility is the fact that it will apparently examine whether there is any truth to it.

For clarity, whistleblower Alice O’Keeffe has said

The official policing inspectorate showed repeated bias in favour of the police and against peaceful protesters…

[The report] was skewed in favour of the government view, with conclusions reached before evidence was gathered and assessed.

The civil service code was breached.

HMICFRS told the home secretary in a private letter it backed the need to change protest laws five months before its report was published.

Some in the inquiry team… likened peaceful protesters to the IRA, which waged a terrorist campaign against the UK.

Ms O’Keeffe’s written complaint was made as HMICFRS worked on a separate report on the policing of a vigil for Sarah Everard. She said the biases she had seen left her fearing a report into the policing of the vigil would be a whitewash.

And, as we have seen, it seems she was right.

That report totally exonerated the police and found fault with those of us who criticised police violence against and manhandling of women at the Clapham Common vigil.

HMICFRS has defended itself by claiming independence – based on nothing more than reputation. But reputations can be broken by facts.

And Ms O’Keeffe has spent five years working for the police inspectorate, so it is reasonable to believe she may know her subject.

Well, I hope she made copies of her evidence and put them in a safe place because if HMICFRS holds any information corroborating her claims then you can bet the hard drives have been wiped and the hard copies shredded already.

The upshot of all this is that in the short term we have another reason to distrust a police service that seems to be working for a totalitarian Tory government – and against us.

And in the long term?

We can expect another report that whitewashes the Tory-supporting inspectorate and gives us even more reason to live in fear of our government and the police force that smashes our heads in its name.

Source: Police watchdog accused of skewing report to back protests clampdown | Police | The Guardian

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Crimewave threat as police austerity means the innocent will suffer

Repression: Scenes like this could become commonplace in the UK as austerity forces police to stop investigating crime and people who try to protest are put down.

Repression: Scenes like this could become commonplace in the UK as austerity forces police to stop investigating crime and people who try to protest are put down.

How free do you feel today?

Whatever your answer, enjoy it while you can because new evidence has shown that funding cuts for the police are likely to result in public repression on a massive scale.

A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary has revealed that austerity is crippling the police service across England and Wales, meaning crime victims are being told to do their own detective work.

According to the BBC, “criminal damage and car crime were ‘on the verge of being decriminalised’ because forces had ‘almost given up'”.

Roger Baker, the inspector who led the review, tried to justify the failure by saying: “It’s not the fault of the individual staff; it’s a mindset thing that’s crept in to policing to say ‘We’ve almost given up’.”

In fairness, the report does say: “HMIC finds this expectation by these forces that the victim should investigate his own crime both surprising and a matter of material concern.

“The police have been given powers and resources to investigate crime by the public, and there should be no expectation on the part of the police that an inversion of that responsibility is acceptable.”

The report also found:

  • People received a different response from the police for the same kind of incident, depending on where they lived – so policing is now a postcode lottery.
  • Attendance rates at crime scenes varied from 39% in Warwickshire to 100% in Cleveland – postcode lottery again.
  • About a third of forces were failing to identify vulnerable and repeat victims – a gift to criminals.
  • There was “inadequate” use of technology by the police.
  • Some forces were losing track of named suspects because they did not have effective systems in place.

Enter ACPO, the sinister Home Office-funded Association of Chief Police Officers, to justify the withdrawal of law and order under the Coalition government’s austerity programme.

“The reality of austerity in policing means that forces must ensure that their officers’ time is put to best use and this means prioritising calls,” said Sir Hugh Orde, ACPO’s president.

ACPO has already anticipated that the effects of austerity may give rise to widespread public protest – which is why it lobbied the government for permission to use water cannons on the streets of the UK.

Vox Political stated in January: “This would be of no use at all in quelling violent criminal activities like the riots in 2011 – the police chiefs have already admitted that water cannons would have been ineffective in halting the “fast, agile disorder” and “dynamic looting” that took place during August 2011.

“ACPO is an organisation that has tried to put ‘agent provocateurs’ into legitimate protest groups and promoted ‘kettling’ to stop peaceful protests (as used in the student protests early in the current Parliament), among many other reprehensible activities.

“Considering its track record, it seems clear that ACPO wants to use water cannons against legitimate political protests, on the assumption that the increasing imposition of ideologically-imposed austerity on the country by the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives will lead to more political protests, as people across the UK finally realise that the Tories and their corporate lobbyist friends are actually working against the wider population.

“ACPO’s report on water cannons makes it clear that “it would be fair to assume that the ongoing and potential future austerity measures are likely to lead to continued protest” and “the mere presence of water cannon can have a deterrent effect”.

“The Home Office response? ‘We are keen to ensure forces have the tools and powers they need to maintain order on our streets. We are currently providing advice to the police on the authorisation process as they build the case for the use of water cannon.’”

What we are seeing is – as mentioned in another VP article published today – when austerity is imposed on a service provided for everybody, that service degenerates.

In the case of policing, this means crimes go unpunished as our political leaders force constabularies to focus increasingly on keeping us under control.

We have already seen police officers checking bus tickets rather than investigating crime. Note that the VP article on this subject provoked a flurry of justificatory comments on our Facebook page, from readers who exhibited a concern that we should not let the evidence convince us that anything was amiss.

ACPO has stated that austerity – such as that which is preventing the police from investigating crime – is likely to stir up public protest.

And ACPO – which, let us remind ourselves, is Home Office-funded – has, in a clear conflict of interest, advised the Home Office to allow the use of water cannon on British streets to put down any such protests, whether they are justified or not. Has it been paid by the Home Office to tell the Home Office what the Home Office wants to hear?

Innocent people exercising their right to protest against injustice will be arrested – while criminals will remain free to vandalise their property and steal from their cars, possibly at the same time.

That’s Tory-run Britain for you: The criminals run amok while the innocent are imprisoned.

Now how free do you feel?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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